FANTASY PLAYS: Stacking players like Brees in daily lineups

Stacking in daily fantasy football is important because when a quarterback has a huge performance there will naturally be pass catchers who also benefit.

When a QB throws for 300-plus yards and multiple touchdowns, a receiver by default will rack up yardage and scores. Pairing a QB and pass catcher together increases the potential upside for a lineup because fantasy owners get double the points each time they hook up.

The high total in the Texans-Patriots game in Week 1 is likely to garner a lot of interest from daily players, leaving others stacks with lower potential ownership. One such stack is the Drew Brees-Michael Thomas connection in New Orleans as the Saints host the Buccaneers. The Saints are 9 1/2-point favorites over Tampa Bay and missing one of their top running backs. And the Saints offense projects to be one of the most concentrated in the league.

Thomas is projected to have 28.3 percent target market share, the fourth highest in the league according to DailyRoto projections, following a 28.1 percent target market share in 2017. Target market share is a pass-catcher’s share of all of a quarterback’s targets — and it’s no secret where Brees will likely throw.

Last year, the Buccaneers ranked 31st in passing defense, according to Football Outsiders’ defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA) statistic. Vernon Hargreaves, one of their starting corners, allowed a whopping 1.61 yards per coverage snap. It’s a beatable matchup that Las Vegas sports books have factored into their wagers offered.

In the unlikely event Thomas is slowed down, it would be either due to the Bucs defense shutting him down or a dominant performance from running back Alvin Kamara — the other guy to consider stacking with Brees.

Just a season ago, Kamara caught more passes than any running back besides Le’Veon Bell and scored more receiving TDs than any RB not named Todd Gurley. Bucs linebacker Lavonte David graded as one of the top linebackers in coverage and the team still ranked 25th in DVOA versus RBs in coverage and allowed nearly 50 receiving yards per game (48.0) to the position.

If the Saints are up late, running out the clock with Kamara would almost surely be the game plan.

Kamara attempted 56 rushes in the first half of games last year and 64 total in the second half of games. DailyRoto’s model projects him for 49.5-percent of the rushing market share, 50-percent of the rushing TD market share and over 5.0 yards per carry (YPC) which even factors in some expected regression following his 6.1 YPC last year — which tied with Barry Sanders for the third highest by a running back since the 1973 season.

Mark Ingram’s four-game suspension opens up the potential for Kamara to touch the ball at least 20 times, something he didn’t do at all last year.


This column was provided to The Associated Press by DailyRoto,

Report: Rams’ strength coach charged with sexual battery

Report: Rams' strength coach charged with sexual battery

Los Angeles Rams strength

Report: Rams’ strength coach charged with sexual battery

Los Angeles Rams strength and conditioning coach Ted Rath reportedly entered a not guilty plea Friday to charges of misdemeanor sexual battery in Ventura County, Calif.

KNX 1070 Newsradio reported that Rath’s attorney, Vicki Podberesky, entered the plea on his behalf and said her client would go to trial to fight the charges if necessary.

The alleged incident took place last June, according to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department. Rath was not arrested until Jan. 15.

Deputy District Attorney Erik Nasarenko asked the sheriff’s department to conduct an additional investigation before deciding to charge Rath with three counts of misdemeanor sexual battery, per KNX 1070.

The Rams issued a statement: “We are aware of the charges. We take allegations very seriously. Once the charges were filed, we decided Ted would take a leave of absence from the team as the matter works its way through the justice system.”

Rath is perhaps best known as the Rams’ “get-back” coach, because he helps to keep head coach Sean McVay out of harm’s way on the sidelines.

When Rath was not with the team during the playoffs, including Super Bowl LIII, the Rams told he was recovering from a medical procedure.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Dolphins trade QB Tannehill to Titans

Reports: Dolphins trade QB Tannehill to Titans


Reports: Dolphins trade QB Tannehill to Titans

The Miami Dolphins reportedly have traded quarterback Ryan Tannehill to Tennessee, where he will back up Titans starter Marcus Mariota.

The Dolphins will receive a seventh-round pick in 2019 and a fourth-rounder in 2020, with the Titans also receiving Miami’s sixth-round pick in 2019, according to NFL Network.

Tannehill restructured his existing contract and will have a fully guaranteed one-year, $7 million deal with the Titans, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported. The value could climb to $12 million with performance incentives.

He would have been due a base salary of $18.75 million. Schefter said Miami will save $33 million in cap space over the next two years.

Tannehill, 30, started 11 games in 2018 and completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 1,979 yards with 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He missed five games with an injured throwing shoulder.

The Dolphins made the move without a proven quarterback on the roster to replace him, having failed to sign free agents Teddy Bridgewater (Saints) or Tyrod Taylor (Chargers). Luke Falk and Jake Rudock are the only QBs on the Miami roster. Falk has never played in an NFL game and Rudock has thrown five passes in three games, including one interception.

Miami made Tannehill the eighth overall pick in 2012, but the Dolphins reached the playoffs only one time in his six seasons.

Tannehill leaves the Dolphins with a 42-46 record. He ranks third in franchise history in passing yards (20,434) and touchdown passes (123).

The Titans now have an insurance policy for Mariota. The 25-year-old former Heisman Trophy winner missed two starts last season because of a nerve injury that affected his throwing shoulder.

Mariota has a 27-28 record in four seasons since Tennessee picked him second overall in the 2015 NFL Draft.

–Field Level Media

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Redskins sign CB Rodgers-Cromartie

Redskins sign CB Rodgers-Cromartie

Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has come out of retirement

Redskins sign CB Rodgers-Cromartie

Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has come out of retirement to sign with the Washington Redskins, the team announced Friday.

Contract terms were not announced.

The No. 16 overall pick by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2008 NFL Draft, Rodgers-Cromartie has played in 160 regular-season games (121 starts).

Following his stint with the Cardinals (2008-10), he played for Philadelphia (2011-12), Denver (2013), the New York Giants (2014-17) and Oakland (2018).

Rodgers-Cromartie played in seven games with the Raiders, then abruptly retired in October, announcing it on Instagram. But earlier this month, he said he wanted to return to football.

He turns 33 next month.

A two-time Pro Bowl selection, Rodgers-Cromartie has 451 tackles to go with 30 interceptions for 535 yards.

In Washington, he’ll be reunited for his former Giants teammate, safety Landon Collins, who signed a six-year, $84 million contract this week.

–Field Level Media

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Raiders will play in Oakland in 2019

Raiders will play in Oakland in 2019


Raiders will play in Oakland in 2019

The Raiders will remain in Oakland for the 2019 season.

The Oakland Alameda County Coliseum Authority voted unanimously Friday to approve a new stadium lease with the Raiders, who are scheduled to relocate to Las Vegas in 2020.

The Raiders will pay $7.5 million to play at the Coliseum in 2019 and have a $10.5 million option to remain there in 2020, an insurance plan in case of construction delays in Nevada.

The team’s $1.8 billion, 65,000-seat facility in Las Vegas is scheduled to be finished by July 31, 2020.

The Oakland City Council and Alameda County Board of Supervisors still need to approve the deal, but that is considered a formality.

Team owner Mark Davis had explored other locations in the Bay Area, including the San Francisco 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium and the San Francisco Giants’ Oracle Park.

The Raiders will play seven games in Oakland in 2019, with an eighth “home” game scheduled against the Chicago Bears in London.

–Field Level Media

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QB Mayfield: ‘It’s an exciting time in Cleveland’

QB Mayfield: 'It's an exciting time in Cleveland'

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield said Friday he can't wait to show the fans what

QB Mayfield: ‘It’s an exciting time in Cleveland’

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield said Friday he can’t wait to show the fans what the team can do in 2019.

“It’s an exciting time in Cleveland, absolutely,” Mayfield said. “The fans there, after having a decent year, nothing that we were too happy about (7-8-1), were unbelievably satisfied. But now, I can’t even imagine.

Mayfield made his first public comments since the Browns acquired Pro Bowl wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. from the New York Giants on Tuesday. He spoke to the media from the Milwaukee Brewers spring training locker room in Phoenix, where he spent the day as a guest of his close friend, Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich.

The Browns have spent the offseason surrounding the second-year quarterback with offensive weapons, most notably Beckham and running back Kareem Hunt, who must serve an eight-game NFL suspension before he can take the field. Beckham is reunited in Cleveland with wide receiver Jarvis Landry, his teammate at LSU and training partner in the NFL.

He called the offense “a thing where you pick your poison.”

When a reporter asked Mayfield about the oversized personalities of Landry and Beckham, he said he has no intention of trying to change anything about the receivers.

“You could say the same thing about me; you don’t want to tame it,” Mayfield said. “You just let them be themselves and make plays. That’s who they are, and when it comes down to it, the guys in that locker room, you’re going to love playing with them.”

–Field Level Media

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Woods’ 7 at island green has him nearing The Players cut line

Woods' 7 at island green has him nearing The Players cut line

Woods’ 7 at island green has him nearing The Players cut line

The 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., claimed another victim in Friday’s second round of The Players Championship: Tiger Woods.

Cruising along in a tie for eighth place when he teed off on the famed hole, Woods took a quadruple-bogey 7 on the picturesque par-3 with the island green, his eighth hole of the day after starting on the back nine. His tee shot from 146 yards was long and left over the island green and his next shot from the drop zone was also long.

After never scoring higher than a double-bogey 5 on No. 17, Woods plummeted to 57th place before he even moved on to the next tee.

Instead of planning his attack for victory on the weekend, Woods was left hovering around the cut line in the PGA Tour’s premier event.

“I was pretty ticked, no doubt about that,” Woods told reporters after the round. “I was bound and determined to get it all back and get it back to 5 under.”

After starting the day with birdies at Nos. 12, 13 and 16, Woods was at 5-under par. But his rough hole moved him to 1 under for the tournament. He rallied back with a 1-under 71 for the day, closing with a birdie on the par-5 second hole and another on the par-4 seventh. He is at 3-under par for the tournament through 36 holes.

“I ended up getting back to 3 (under),” Woods said. “It was a good fight to get it back to that point.”

Immediately after his round, Woods was six strokes off the lead but still feeling confident, even though the leaders had started to widen the gap.

“I just need to go out and put it together, because right now literally anybody who makes the cut has got a chance to win this tournament,” Woods said of his approach to the weekend.

–Field Level Media

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Titans releasing veteran G Kline

Titans releasing veteran G Kline

The Tennessee Titans are releasing right guard Josh Kline, one

Titans releasing veteran G Kline

The Tennessee Titans are releasing right guard Josh Kline, one year after signing him to a four-year, $26 million contract extension.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said the 29-year-old veteran declined to take a pay cut. Releasing him leaves a $3.5 million dead cap hit this season.

Kline started all 16 games last season and 46 of the Titans’ 48 games from 2016-18. He spent his first three seasons with the New England Patriots.

–Field Level Media

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Browns RB Hunt suspended eight games

Browns RB Hunt suspended eight games


Browns RB Hunt suspended eight games

Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt was suspended for the first eight games of the 2018 season.

Hunt was on the commissioner’s exempt list since Nov. 30 during the NFL’s investigation into a physical altercation captured by an Ohio hotel surveillance system in which Hunt shoved to the ground and kicked a woman.

Hunt’s agent, Dan Saffron, said there will be no appeal in a released statement in response to the announcement of the discipline.

“PFS Agency stands behind our client, Kareem Hunt, in his decision to accept the suspension handed down by the NFL today,” Saffron said.

The NFL said in a statement Hunt’s ban is the result of two separate incidents.

“Kareem Hunt of the Cleveland Browns was notified today that he has been suspended without pay for the Browns’ first eight regular season games for violations of the NFL Personal Conduct Policy in connection with physical altercations at his residence in Cleveland last February and at a resort in Ohio last June. Hunt was placed on the Commissioner Exempt list on November 30 and was released by his former club, the Kansas City Chiefs, that same day. The findings followed a detailed investigation by the NFL, which included reviewing available law enforcement records, video and electronic communications, interviews with numerous witnesses, and multiple interviews with Hunt.

“Hunt has advised the league office that he accepts responsibility for his conduct and the discipline that has been imposed. He has committed to take advantage of available resources to help him grow personally and as a member of the Cleveland community, and to live up to his obligations as an NFL player. The eight-game suspension will take effect as of the final roster reduction on August 31. Hunt will be eligible to play in the Browns’ ninth regular season game.”

When the video surfaced, Hunt was released by the Chiefs. The Browns signed Hunt to a one-year contract in February after general manager John Dorsey — who drafted Hunt as GM of the Chiefs — and owner Jimmy Haslam reviewed the situation and discussed appropriate steps toward contrition with Hunt.

“We had done our research,” Dorsey said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “We thought at the appropriate time with all the information we did have, how truly remorseful he was and … knowing when he comes here there are no guarantees, he’s going to earn your respect with his actions. Right now, I feel very comfortable with the signing.

“Deep down, if you really sit down and engage with him, he has a really good heart. The act he did last year — it was egregious. We all know that. … He’s showing through his actions, not his words, how remorseful he is.”

Hunt is not permitted to be with the Browns during the suspension, but can participate in training camp and preseason games.

ESPN reported Hunt will forfeit $303,529 of his $645,000 base salary. He is scheduled to be a restricted free agent in March 2019.

“He’s got a lot of work to do,” Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said in Indianapolis, “between now and when that second chance comes. Right now, our job is to support Kareem and help him grow as a person.”

–Field Level Media

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Pats to release DE Clayborn, clear $4M in cap space

Pats to release DE Clayborn, clear $4M in cap space

Pats to release DE Clayborn, clear $4M in cap space

New England is releasing defensive end Adrian Clayborn, a move that clears about $4 million in cap space for the defending champion Patriots.

Clayborn, 30, broke the news Friday morning on Twitter and thanked the Patriots for granting his release.

“I’m ready for this next chapter,” he said.

Clayborn was due to count $5.94 million against the cap and New England will have $2 million in dead money with this move.

Clayborn, who signed a two-year, $12 million deal with the Patriots last March, tallied 11 tackles, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble in 14 games in 2018.

Tampa Bay’s first-round pick in 2011, Clayborn played four seasons with the Buccaneers and three with the Atlanta Falcons before joining New England.

In 95 career games, he has 32.5 sacks, 178 tackles and eight forced fumbles.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Bengals signing G Miller for 3 years, $16.5M

Reports: Bengals signing G Miller for 3 years, $16.5M


Reports: Bengals signing G Miller for 3 years, $16.5M

The Cincinnati Bengals are signing free agent guard John Miller to a three-year, $16.5 million contract, according to multiple reports Friday.

Miller, 25, was Buffalo’s third-round pick in 2015 and started 47 games at right guard for the Bills over the past four seasons.

Miller ranked fourth on the Bills with 883 offensive snaps in 15 starts last season.

Miller visited Thursday with the Bengals. He will be reunited on the offensive line with former Buffalo teammate Cordy Glenn, a tackle who joined Cincinnati in a trade last March.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Cardinals to sign OL Garcia, WR White

Reports: Cardinals to sign OL Garcia, WR White


Reports: Cardinals to sign OL Garcia, WR White

The Arizona Cardinals continue to revamp their offensive line, coming to terms with free agent offensive lineman Max Garcia, according to multiple media reports.

Arizona is also expected to sign former Chicago Bears first-round wideout Kevin White, according to NFL Network.

Garcia was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the fourth round of the 2015 draft and played in 57 games for the team, starting 41. Garcia is primarily a left guard but has played some on the right side. He is coming off an ACL tear suffered in mid-November.

The Cardinals, beset with injuries and poor play in the trenches last year, have already traded for former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert and come to terms with former Seattle Seahawks guard J.R. Sweezy.

White, 26, was drafted seventh overall in 2015 but has played in just 14 games (five starts) through four seasons due to a variety of injuries. After surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left leg wiped out his rookie season, he broke the fibula in the same leg in 2016 and then fractured his left shoulder blade in 2017, finishing all three years on injured reserve.

Last year, White had four catches for 92 yards in nine games (no starts), including a 54-yarder on a Hail Mary attempt that came up just short of the goal line. He was a healthy scratch in several games during the final few weeks of the season.

–Field Level Media

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Saints re-sign Bridgewater, add DT Brown

Saints re-sign Bridgewater, add DT Brown


Saints re-sign Bridgewater, add DT Brown

Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has agreed to re-sign with the New Orleans Saints rather than join the Miami Dolphins, according to multiple reports on Thursday.

Bridgewater acknowledged the decision on Twitter, posting a photo of himself in his Saints uniform with the caption, “Run it back Turbo.”

According to multiple reports, Bridgewater will sign a one-year deal worth $7.25 million, with incentives that can push the value as high as $12.5 million.

Bridgewater, 26, visited with the Dolphins on Wednesday evening but did not come away with a contract.

NFL Network reported after Monday’s free agent negotiating window opened that Bridgewater would return to New Orleans, but multiple reports on Wednesday said the decision was not final, and that the Miami native could opt for his hometown Dolphins if they offered more money. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Wednesday that speculation linking Saints head coach Sean Payton to the Dallas Cowboys’ job in 2020 was factoring into Bridgewater’s decision.

After flirting with Miami, Bridgewater will remain the Saints’ backup and potential heir apparent to 40-year-old Drew Brees, whose contract was restructured Thursday to create more cap room. Brees is under contract through 2019, though he has said he would like to play further into his 40s.

Bridgewater went 14 for 23 for 118 yards, a touchdown and an interception in limited action last season, but he impressed in the preseason for the New York Jets, prompting the Saints to trade a third-round pick for him in August. The former first-round pick has started just one game since suffering a devastating knee injury just before the 2016 season opener.

The Saints also signed former New England Patriots defensive tackle Malcom Brown to a three-year contract on Thursday.

According to multiple reports, the deal is worth $5 million annually.

Brown, 25, was the Patriots’ first-round pick in 2015 and started 51 of 60 games over four seasons while shining in run defense, but his fifth-year option was declined. He had no sacks and just one QB hit last year while making a career-low 39 tackles, but he has 8.5 sacks, 16 QB hits and 186 tackles in his career.

–Field Level Media

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Chiefs agree to deal with DE Okafor

Chiefs agree to deal with DE Okafor

Chiefs agree to deal with DE Okafor

The Kansas City Chiefs continued to rework their defense as they signed defensive end Alex Okafor, the team announced on Thursday.

Contract terms were not disclosed, but multiple reports said the deal was for three years and $24 million.

A six-year veteran who played the last two seasons in New Orleans, Okafor arrives on the heels of the Chiefs also adding safety Tyrann Mathieu, whose deal was officially signed Thursday.

Kansas City opened up cap space recently with the release of linebacker Justin Houston and defensive back Eric Berry. The Chiefs also traded franchise-tagged pass rusher Dee Ford to the San Francisco 49ers, citing a poor fit in new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s 4-3 defense.

Okafor, 28, had four sacks, nine QB hits and 36 tackles last season for the Saints, who advanced to the NFC championship game. He started all 16 games in 2018, the first time in his career he has played a full season.

In 68 career NFL games with the Arizona Cardinals and Saints, the former 2013 fourth-round pick out of Texas has 22 sacks, 48 QB hits, 156 tackles and nine passes defensed. He had career highs of eight sacks and 13 QB hits in 2014 with the Arizona Cardinals.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Giants add WR Tate, DE Golden

Reports: Giants add WR Tate, DE Golden

Reports: Giants add WR Tate, DE Golden

The New York Giants found some wide receiver help Thursday when they agreed to a four-year, $37.5 million deal with Golden Tate, $23 million of which is fully guaranteed, according to multiple reports.

Tate acknowledged the signing on Twitter, tweeting an image of the “I love New York” logo and making it his new profile picture.

Tate will pick up at least some of the slack after wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was traded to the Cleveland Browns this week. A nine-year veteran, Tate, 30, caught 74 passes for 795 yards and four touchdowns for the Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles last season.

Tate was traded from Detroit to Philadelphia before the trade deadline in October for a third-round pick in the upcoming draft.

The former second-round pick in 2010 by the Seattle Seahawks has caught 611 passes for 7,214 yards and 38 touchdowns for the Seahawks, Lions and Eagles. He was selected to the Pro Bowl after the 2014 season, his first with the Lions, when he caught a career-best 99 passes for 1,331 yards and four TDs.

Tate told reporters after the season that if he didn’t stay with Philadelphia, he hoped to latch on with a contender.

“My years are limited,” Tate said at the time. “I don’t have time to go someone who’s trying to rebuild. I need to go somewhere where they believe they can win now.”

Meanwhile, the Giants also added outside linebacker Markus Golden on a one-year deal, according to multiple reports.

Golden’s agent, Joseph Clayborne, told ESPN’s Josina Anderson his client wanted a one-year deal in a good situation to prove his value.

“We are going to reunite with his former D Coordinator and get back to where we should be as one of the top pass rushers in the league,” Clayborne told Anderson.

Golden, who turned 28 on Wednesday, played three seasons under Giants defensive coordinator James Bettcher, who held the same position with the Arizona Cardinals from 2015-17.

A second-round pick in 2015, Golden had just 2.5 sacks and six quarterback hits last season in 11 games while returning from a torn ACL, but he racked up 12.5 sacks and 22 QB hits in 16 games in 2016.

The Giants are also expected to re-sign defensive backs Tony Lippett and Antonio Hamilton, according to multiple reports on Thursday.

Both players were primarily special team performers in 2018.

-Field Level Media

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Cowboys bring back WR Austin, sign DL Covington

Cowboys bring back WR Austin, sign DL Covington

The Cowboys and

Cowboys bring back WR Austin, sign DL Covington

The Cowboys and Tavon Austin agreed on a one-year deal to keep the speedy wide receiver in Dallas, the team announced Thursday.

Austin played in just seven games due to injury last season, catching eight passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns. He could be in line for more targets now that Cole Beasley left the Cowboys for Buffalo.

Austin also ran the ball six times for 55 yards.

Austin has 14 career touchdowns in six NFL seasons, the first five of which came with the Rams.

The Cowboys also signed free agent defensive lineman Christian Covington to a one-year deal to bolster a line that will be without Randy Gregory and David Irving next season. Covington posted 7.5 sacks in 50 games with the Houston Texans over the past four seasons.

–Field Level Media

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Fleetwood, Bradley grab early lead at Players Championship

Fleetwood, Bradley grab early lead at Players Championship

Fleetwood, Bradley grab early lead at Players Championship

Keegan Bradley and England’s Tommy Fleetwood shot 7-under-par 65s on Thursday to share the lead after the first round of The Players Championship in Ponte Verde Beach, Fla.

While the scores were uncommonly low at TPC Sawgrass as the winds stayed fairly calm, Fleetwood turned in one of only six bogey-free rounds on the day. The majority of the low scores came during the morning wave.

“Very happy, I’ll take that and move on and go have my lunch,” Fleetwood said after the round. “I played really, really well. It was nice to just hit a lot of good golf shots. I was really good off the tee, and I put myself in good positions all throughout the day.”

Brian Harman and South Korea’s Byeong Hun An are tied for second at 6 under with Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy another shot back at 5 under along with Vaughn Taylor and Ryan Moore.

There are 10 players within three shots of the lead, with Slovakia’s Rory Sabbatini part of a group at 4 under that also includes Brendan Steele, J.T. Poston, Kyle Stanley and Kevin Kisner.

Fleetwood and Bradley both began their rounds on the back nine.

While Fleetwood did most of his damage with a 6-under 30 over his final nine holes on the front nine, Bradley shot out of the gates with birdies on two of his first three holes. He traded a bogey and a birdie before knocking his second shot on the par-5 16th hole to within 10 feet and converting the eagle putt.

Bradley birdied the 18th hole and then added two more birdies over his final nine holes. Perhaps the biggest shot of the day was his third on the par-5 second after shanking his approach into the trees. Bradley overcame a gnarly lie to punch his ball onto the green and went on to save par.

“It’s one of those rounds that just felt easy,” Bradley told the Golf Channel. “I rarely ever have rounds like that. It was just a fun day that everything went right.”

Fleetwood reeled off three consecutive birdies to close out his opening round, and said the putts simply started to fall in on his back nine.

“If you would have asked me this morning a 65, I would have quite happily sat in the locker room and not moved,” said Fleetwood.

Tiger Woods is five shots off the lead after battling his way to a 2-under 70. Woods struggled with misses both left and right off the tee throughout the round, but also rolled in six birdies against four bogeys.

Woods birdied the 16th and 17th holes to put himself in position for just his second opening round in the 60s at TPC Sawgrass, but pulled his 4-foot par put on the 18th hole left of the cup.

Woods played in the afternoon round, when players had to deal with bumpier greens and stronger winds.

“It was tricky out there today,” he told the Golf Channel. “I was hoping that we would get the brunt of the wind early and then it would die down. It died down a little bit, it wasn’t so bad, but the greens got a little bit on the bumpier side towards the end. Became a little more challenging to make the putts.”

Other notable names include top-ranked Dustin Johnson (3 under), No. 2 in the world Justin Rose (2 over), Nos. 3 and 4 Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas (1 under) and Phil Mickelson (2 over.)

Woods said he came out of the round feeling good after skipping last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational due to a neck injury.

“Neck’s fine … yeah, neck’s good,” he said. “Just wish that putt would have gone in on the last hole.”

Notes: Moore hit only the ninth hole-in-one on the famed par-3 17th hole in the history of The Players. It came just minutes after Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo hit the flagstick with his tee shot and nearly rolled back into the water before going on to make par. Moore’s ace came from 121 yards. None of the previous players to hit a hole-in-one on the 17th hole have gone on to win The Players. … Harris English made just the second albatross in the history of the event on the par-5 11th when he holed out from 236 yards. … Wyndham Clark was the last player in the field after Pat Perez withdrew due to an Achilles injury.

–Field Level Media

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Patriots sign five players, including WR Ellington

Patriots sign five players, including WR Ellington

Patriots sign five players, including WR Ellington

The New England Patriots added pieces to their roster on Thursday, signing five players.

Defensive tackle Mike Pennel signed a two-year deal, his agent confirmed. Tight end Matt LaCosse, who visited the Patriots on Thursday, also signed a two-year contract, this one worth as much as $4.8 million, ESPN’s Mike Reiss said.

Wide receivers Bruce Ellington and Maurice Harris also are joining the team, according to multiple outlets. Ellington’s deal is for one year, and no terms were reported or announced for either receiver.

Safety Terrence Brooks, also a special teams standout, is moving to New England from the New York Jets on a two-year deal, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported.

Pennel, 27, is a five-year NFL veteran who spent the past two seasons with the Jets, before they declined his 2019 option in February. In 32 games (10 starts) in that span, he made 62 tackles and had three quarterback hits. He can help to fill the vacancy created when Malcom Brown departed for New Orleans.

The 26-year-old LaCosse is entering his fourth season. With Denver last year, he played in 15 games, making 24 catches for 250 yards and a touchdown. The Broncos declined to tender LaCosse, who was a restricted free agent, earlier this week.

Ellington split time last season between the Houston Texans and Detroit Lions. In seven games (three starts), the 27-year-old had 31 receptions for 224 yards and a touchdown.

Harris, 26, played for the Washington Redskins for three seasons before they declined his restricted free agent tender this week. In that time, he appeared in 28 games (seven starts), catching 40 passes for 432 yards and a touchdown. He also filled in as a punt returner in 2018.

Brooks, 27, has played for the Baltimore Ravens, Philadelphia Eagles and the Jets during his five-year career. In 65 total games, he has 43 tackles, three interceptions, eight pass breakups and two forced fumbles.

–Field Level Media

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NFL transactions: Bridgewater re-signs with Saints

NFL transactions: Bridgewater re-signs with Saints

Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater

NFL transactions: Bridgewater re-signs with Saints

Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater agreed to re-sign with the New Orleans Saints rather than join the Miami Dolphins, according to multiple reports on Thursday.

Bridgewater, who acknowledged the decision on Twitter, reportedly will receive a one-year deal worth $7.25 million, with incentives that can push the value as high as $12.5 million. He visited the Dolphins on Wednesday.

The Saints also restructured Drew Brees’ contract to free up $10.8 million in cap space and signed former New England Patriots defensive tackle Malcom Brown. According to multiple reports, Brown’s deal is worth $5 million annually.

–The New York Giants agreed to a four-year, $37.5 million deal, $23 million of which is fully guaranteed, with wideout Golden Tate, according to multiple reports.

Tate, who acknowledged the signing on Twitter, will pick up at least some of the slack after wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was traded to the Cleveland Browns this week. Tate, 30, caught 74 passes for 795 yards and four touchdowns for the Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles last season.

The Giants also added outside linebacker Markus Golden on a one-year deal, according to multiple reports, reuniting him with former coordinator James Bettcher. Golden had 12.5 sacks under Bettcher with the Arizona Cardinals in 2016.

–Trey Flowers put pen to paper to join the Detroit Lions on a $90 million contract, officially becoming the fifth-highest-paid defensive player in the NFL.

The former Patriots defensive end, who aligned at six different positions for at least 15 snaps last season in New England, was a coveted chess piece for Matt Patricia’s defense in Detroit. Patricia used to coach Flowers in New England. Flowers racked up 21 sacks and 59 QB hits over the past three seasons. He received a $28 million signing bonus.

The Lions also signed safety Andrew Adams to a one-year deal after the Bucs declined to tender a contract to the restricted free agent.

–The Seattle Seahawks re-signed linebacker K.J. Wright and guard D.J. Fluker while adding guard Mike Iupati.

Wright’s deal is for two years and $15.5 million, according to NFL Network. Fluker’s deal is for two years and $9 million per, while Iupati’s deal is for one year.

–The Oakland Raiders released wide receiver Jordy Nelson and quarterback AJ McCarron.

The Raiders gave Nelson a $3.6 million bonus on Dec. 28, which was earlier than required, for cap purposes. Head coach Jon Gruden said at the time regarding Nelson, “Yeah, he’ll be back.”

Nelson earned just under $11 million for one year, with the team saving $3.5 million with his release. The Raiders will save $5 million by releasing McCarron, who was acquired for a fifth-round pick from Buffalo in September.

–The Minnesota Vikings agreed to a restructured contract with defensive end Everson Griffen, general manager Rick Spielman confirmed, hours before his $10.9 million salary for 2019 would have become guaranteed.

According to NFL Network, Griffen instead will make $8 million in 2019, with the potential to opt out of his deal if he hits certain performance marks.

–The Kansas City Chiefs signed former Saints defensive end Alex Okafor.

Contract terms were not disclosed, but multiple reports said the deal was for three years and $24 million.

–Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix signed a one-year deal worth a reported $3.5 million with the Chicago Bears.

NFL Network reported Clinton-Dix turned down more money to play in Chicago with fellow Alabama safety Eddie Jackson.

–The Carolina Panthers released left tackle Matt Kalil with a post-June 1 designation.

The Charlotte Observer first reported the move. Using the delayed designation saves the Panthers more than $7 million under the salary cap this year.

–The San Francisco 49ers signed former Pro Bowl cornerback Jason Verrett to a one-year contract. Multiple outlets report the deal is worth $3.6 million.

Verrett, 27, has played in just five games over the past three seasons and just 25 through five years, but he reached the Pro Bowl in 2015 with the then-San Diego Chargers.

The 49ers also signed former Eagles wideout Jordan Matthews (one-year deal) and former Panthers linebacker David Mayo (two years) and released linebacker Brock Coyle, who announced his retirement due to a compression fracture in his back sustained last season. The team will also re-sign safety Antone Exum on a one-year deal worth $895,000, per multiple reports.

–The Jets officially signed and introduced running back Le’Veon Bell, a few hours after releasing incumbent starter Isaiah Crowell. They also re-signed nose tackle Steve McLendon and officially confirmed the re-signings of offensive lineman Jonotthan Harrison and cornerback Darryl Roberts.

The New York Daily News reported McLendon’s deal is for one year and $2.5 million, with an additional $1 million in incentives.

The Jets also signed cornerback Brian Poole to a one-year, $3.5 million deal, per multiple reports. The Atlanta Falcons surprisingly did not tender the restricted free agent after he broke up 20 passes in 47 games (21 starts) over the past three seasons.

–The Patriots signed defensive tackle Mike Pennel (two-year deal), tight end Matt LaCosse (two years, $4.8 million), wide receivers Bruce Ellington (one year) and Maurice Harris (not reported) and safety Terrence Brooks (two years), according to several reports.

Pennel and Brooks are former Jets.

–The Cincinnati Bengals signed former Giants cornerback B.W. Webb to a three-year contract. The deal reportedly is worth $13 million.

–The Pittsburgh Steelers signed former Jaguars wide receiver Donte Moncrief to a two-year deal and re-signed wideout Eli Rogers and defensive tackle Dan McCullers.

–The Dallas Cowboys re-signed wideout Tavon Austin and added former Texans defensive lineman Christian Covington, both on one-year deals.

–The Falcons signed tight end Luke Stocker on a two-year contract and running back Kenjon Barner on a one-year deal.

–The Arizona Cardinals are expected to sign former Bears first-round wideout Kevin White, per NFL Network, and former Denver Broncos guard Max Garcia, per his agent.

–The Cleveland Browns signed former Bears offensive lineman Eric Kush, who started seven games last season.

–The Philadelphia Eagles signed former Steelers linebacker L.J. Fort to a three-year deal worth a reported, $5.6 million.

–Field Level Media

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Mickelson: Family not part of college admissions scheme

Mickelson: Family not part of college admissions scheme


Mickelson: Family not part of college admissions scheme

Golfer Phil Mickelson said he paid the ringleader of a college admissions bribery scheme for college preparation for his children but nothing more.

Speaking Thursday after the opening round of The Players Championship in Ponte Vedra, Fla., Mickelson said he and his wife, Amy, hired William Singer’s for-profit tutoring company. But, he added, he never made a financial donation to Singer’s nonprofit group, Key World Foundation, in expectation of Singer’s help of getting his children into a college they weren’t qualified to attend.

Singer admitted to using the foundation to illegally funnel bribes received from parents.

“We, along with thousands of other families, hired he and his company to help guide us through the college application process,” Mickelson told reporters. “We’re as shocked as everyone the last few days.”

The Mickelsons have three children. Their 19-year-old daughter, Amanda, attends Brown University. Their younger daughter and son are in high school.

On Tuesday, Singer pleaded guilty to numerous charges that had to do with his work in helping the children of well-to-do parents gain admission to top universities either by arranging to fix their scores on tests such as the SAT, or by building a profile of the students as recruited athletes and connecting them with coaches. Members of athletic staffs at several Division I universities, recruited by Singer, have been indicted in connection with the case.

Singer published a testimonial letter from the Mickelsons on his company’s website, which the golfer said his wife wrote as a thank you for assistance in the college-prep efforts for the children.

“We’re not a part of this,” Mickelson said of the scheme. “Most every family that hired his company was not a part of it. I think that’s why we’re all so surprised.”

He said his children have both the academic and athletic prowess to be considered by leading colleges on their own.

Amanda Mickelson was the captain of the lacrosse and tennis teams at Pacific Ridge School in Carlsbad, Calif. She also was on the basketball team.

“Our kids, schools are like fighting to get them,” Mickelson said. “I say that as a proud dad. Their grades and outside activities and worldly beliefs are things that have colleges recruiting them. [Singer and his company] helped us through the whole process because it can be confusing.”

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Raiders release WR Nelson

Reports: Raiders release WR Nelson

The Oakland Raiders released wide

Reports: Raiders release WR Nelson

The Oakland Raiders released wide receiver Jordy Nelson on Thursday, according to multiple reports, less than three months after paying him a $3.6 million roster bonus for 2019.

The Raiders gave Nelson — who joined the team on a two-year, $14.2 million deal last spring — his bonus on Dec. 28, which was earlier than required, for cap purposes. Head coach Jon Gruden said at the time regarding Nelson, “Yeah, he’ll be back.”

Instead, Nelson has been released, after earning just under $11 million for one year. The team will save just over $3.5 million against the cap in 2019, with $1.8 million in dead money.

Oakland traded for star wideout Antonio Brown over the weekend, then signed former Los Angeles Chargers deep threat Tyrell Williams in free agency.

Nelson, who turns 34 in May, has now been released in consecutive offseasons, after the Green Bay Packers let him go last spring. He had 63 catches for 739 yards and three touchdowns in 15 games (14 starts) last season.

Nelson had 97 grabs for 1,257 yards and a league-high 14 scores in 2016 while coming off a torn ACL, but he posted just 53 catches for 482 yards in 2017, marking a career-low 9.1 yards per catch. In 10 career seasons, he has 613 catches for 8,587 yards and 72 touchdowns.

The Raiders also officially announced the re-signing of defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins and the addition of former Los Angeles Rams safety Lamarcus Joyner. Both deals were reported earlier this week.

–Field Level Media

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